Illustrated Dictionary of British Churches

History and Architecture


The term misericord translates from the Latin as 'mercy seat', and that's precisely what it was; a small ledge, or seat, attached to the underside of a pew or choir seat, to provide a merciful and very welcome place for clergy to rest during long periods of standing during lengthy medieval sermons.

Misericords were often elaborately carved, and it is these carvings that make studying them so fascinating. The carvings might be of mythological creatures, religious symbols, grotesque beasts, Green Men, and a wide variety of other unusual and striking symbols.

Related: Choir   Grotesque  

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This profligate poet and preacher rose to become dean of St Paul's Cathedral

18 March, 978

Murder of King Edward

The young King Edward, who had only been on the throne for 3 years, was murdered at Corfe Castle, Dorset, probably with the connivance of his step-mother. Edward, later canonized, was succeeded by his half-brother Ethelred, known to history by the unfortunate soubriquet, Ethelred the Unready

This sickly monarch died at the age of 16, leaving the throne to his elder sister

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